News briefs from around Kentucky at 1:58 a.m. EDT

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

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Ky. Senate OKs bill aimed at attorney general

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Senate reacted Monday to the attorney general’s refusal to appeal a ruling allowing state recognition of same-sex marriages, passing a bill that would allow top legislative leaders to intervene in such situations.

The measure would enable the state Senate president or House speaker to intervene in a court case when the attorney general or governor fail to defend a state law or part of the state constitution. The measure passed 31-6 and now goes to the House.

The measure stems partly from state Attorney General Jack Conway’s recent decision not to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that overturned parts of a 2004 state constitutional amendment barring recognition of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

Conway said that appealing the case would be “defending discrimination.”

Gov. Steve Beshear stepped in and hired a private law firm to handle the appeal.

The fallout from Conway’s refusal to appeal reached the Senate floor Monday. Republican Sen. Sara Beth Gregory pointedly said her bill would allow the intervention by top legislative leaders when the attorney general “is not doing his job.”

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Ky. Senate OKs bill offering snow days relief

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Senate offered its approach Monday to assisting schools struggling with a mounting number of missed days because of the harsh winter.

Senators sent their version to the House on a 38-0 vote. It coincided with another day of wintry weather that forced some school districts to call off classes yet again. Long bouts of snow and ice have forced some districts to miss more than 30 instructional days this winter.

Those recurrent absences have school employees and parents wondering how long the school year might be extended to make up for lost time. That could conflict with summer vacations, sports tournaments and continuing education plans by teachers.

Under the Senate’s plan, local school boards could submit revised calendars to the state education commissioner to adjust for lost instructional time. Changes could include extending school days or having students in session on days off. School days could not exceed seven instructional hours. If districts are still struggling to make up all lost time, school boards could request a state waiver from the required 1,062 instructional hours in a school year.

The Senate attached those provisions to a House bill and then passed it. The measure next returns to the House.

The House passed its own bill last week that would allow districts to have up to 10 missed instructional days waived.

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